It can be a struggle to create balance as a coach. You have to split your time between work, home and coaching your team.
If you're a young coach just starting out it may seem like you have all the time in the world to watch games, hold workouts, supervise open gyms, and take care of everything you want to do as a coach. As you get older and your family starts to take more of your time you find it harder and harder to create balance as a coach, dad, and in your career.
I experienced this the hard way when I took over as the head coach at Kalamazoo Valley Community College. The balance I needed between coaching, working, and family wasn't nearly what it should have been. This ultimately led me to the high school game where the season was shorter and the demands were less.
My promise to myself and to my wife when I started thinking about applying to coach again was that I wouldn't put basketball before family and I would find a balance we both could agree upon. So far so good. I've had to say no to a few things, but I've been able to say yes to many more. The balance I have found is what keeps me going and drives me to be the best at what I do.
The myth that coaches need to live in the gym, demand more and more of themselves and their players is just that, a myth. It still takes time to do things the right way and to put your team in a position to compete and win, but if done correctly, coaches can have balance in their life and still find success.
Part of finding success is being able to remove yourself from the rat race that coaching can create. Once you remove yourself you can begin to create balance in other areas of your life that are important. Below are four ways I've been able to remove myself and find better balance as a coach, teacher, spouse, and father.
1. Be Fully Present
To be fully present is to be fully engaged in what is happening around you at the moment. This may seem like a simple no brainer of a thing to do, but it can be harder than it looks at first glance.
If you're a parent you're always being pulled in many different directions and as a coach your attention is being grabbed by players, parents, coaches, planning and so many other things.
To be fully present takes an intentional action on your part to say, "I'm not going to do or think about anything other than what I am doing right now."
For me this is something I continuously have to work at. I'm a planner and even when I'm not at the computer or in the gym my mind is usually going through all the things that I need to do. I'm not always fully present, I'm being 50% present. Our family's deserve 100% of us and the only way to do this is to make a concentrated effort to be fully present. I have become better in this area and will continue to strive to be better and focus on what is happening around me.
2. Disconnect From Technology
There isn't any March Madness on and there are no opponents to prepare for, so give yourself permission to disconnect from basketball, and dare I say, technology.
Last year, a coaching friend of mine took a month off of Twitter. He said he needed to reboot his mind and put his time to use in other ways. Twitter is great for connecting with other coaches, but it's also a time waster. This goes for Facebook, Youtube, Snapchat, television (if you still have one), computers, etc. They all are great tools that can bog down our mental capacity and steal time from us.
Here is what I have found with social media after taking time off and reengaging all of my followers and groups I'm a part of... everyone is still there. There was no mass exodus of people. Many people didn't even know I was gone. They filled the noise with someone else.
Whether you set a hard rule that you won't be on your phone after 8pm or you'll be like my friend and take 30 days off, be sure to set some basic guidelines so you have time to recharge and get rid of all the noise.
3. Take Your Spouse Out
Coach Al McGuire once said, "don't let basketball become your mistress." This has always stuck with me. Being a coach does take time. It doesn't have to take all of your time though.
Believe it or not, basketball, like anything else, can only take the amount of time we allow it to take from us. If you say you'll open the gym four times a week then you've given permission for those four windows of time to take time out of your day to be in the gym. If you only say three days, then you'll only allow three days to be taken.
I know you're thinking that you have to be in the gym so your team will be competitive and stay on top, or get to the top. I agree your players do need to be working on their game, but does it have to be you in the gym.
Here area a couple quick ways to get out of the gym and still have your players get better.
- Encourage your players to attend camps. Hand out pamphlets and put links to camps on your website for players and parents to access.
- Get your lower level coaches to open the gym. My program has a revolving schedule so all open gyms and workouts don't fall on me. If I have to miss they will cover for me and if they miss I'll cover for them. We do the team thing just like we are asking our team to do.
- Hand out summer workouts for your players to do. Many players have a hoop at home or can get to a park. If they only wait on you then they will never be the best player the are capable of becoming.
All of these tips get you out of the gym and open up time for you to take your spouse out to dinner or to the movies. Don't let basketball become your mistress, you need to court your spouse even after you've been married 5, 10, 15, 20 years. Don't fall in love with basketball and forget about the love of your life who is supporting you. If you have kids this is even more important. Your spouse sacrifices a lot during the season so you can be in the gym. Give time back to her and your kids.
The summer is a down time for coaches. I'm giving you permission to go fall in love with your spouse all over again. Fall in love just like you did before you were known as Coach, do it with your time: dinner, movies, weekend away, taking a walk, going shopping. Whatever it is they love to do with you, go do that.
4. Quiet Time
In the mornings I need my quiet time to start my day off right. I try to wake up around 6 a.m. and go for a run and have a little bit of time to myself before my kids wake up. I'm not sure why, but this time really helps me. If I don't have some quiet time I feel rushed and short with my wife and kids. Since I realize this about myself I pull my tired self out of bed and start my day with some quiet time.
What helps you focus? Maybe it's not in the morning, rather its relaxing at night or reading. No matter what it is do you have time to yourself to be with your thoughts, take in nature, or just sit and relax for 15-20 minutes. You don't have to take all day, but having a few minutes a day to yourself will help you stay focused as you move forward.
(Bonus) Schedule Your Time
You could call this #5 but I'm just going to call it a bonus. Like an author trying to finish a draft of their book, scheduling time in your day is the only way to make sure things get done.
If you're serious about having balance put it in your calendar on your phone, add it to the list your making of to-do's this week, or jot a note to hang on your bathroom mirror so you'll see it in the morning. If you don't schedule time for yourself the seconds will turn to minutes and minutes to hours and before you know if the day will be gone and you'll have done everything but find balance.
Take it from me, when you find balance on and off the court you'll be a better coach for your players, a better parent to your kids, and a better spouse to your significant other.
I want to challenge you to take these ideas with you to your next coaches meeting and let them know you want them to take some time to find balance in their life so they can be better coaches in your program.